Archive for the ‘Practice’ Category
In our regular evening schedule we end every sitting at night with the Kozen Daito Kokushi Yui Kai, the Final Admonition of the National Teacher Kozen Daito. In Zen temples that are in the lineage tradition of the Otokan school (Dai-o Kokushi, Daito Kokushi, Kanzan Egen) the text is also chanted before the master gives teisho. The chant sounds quite different compared to the sino-japanese syllabic transliterations of Indian Buddhist scriptures since it is medieval Japanese and multiple syllables may fall on a single beat. The rhythm on the mokugyo (the wooden temple block) also differs from the patterns used in the regular sutra chants – it is constant, an elemental rhythm, like a march, without acceleration; it begins at a set pace and remains in the same tempo throughout.
The text goes back to Shuho Myocho 宗峰妙超 (1282-1337), usually known as Daito Kokushi 大燈國師, who according to the stories gave this admonition as the last address to his students. He was an interesting character, who according to legend after the death of his principle master (Dai-o Kokushi) spent twenty years living with homeless beggars under the Gojo Bridge in Kyoto. The Emperor Hanazono, who later sponsored Myoshin-ji 妙心寺, went to look for Shuho Myocho; not being able to distinguish him from the other beggars he resorted to a clever device. The Emperor knew that the Zen master loved melons; therefore he brought along a basket of melons and asked the beggars to take the melon without using their hands. By answering “Give me the melon without using your hands” Shuho revealed himself and the emperor was able to persuade him to become the abbot of Daitoku-ji 大徳寺, where Shuho then spent the rest of his life. Shuho Myocho died in the high seat, after forcing his crippled leg into full lotos posture (and thus breaking it); once he assumed the posture he composed his death poem, and then passed away.
O you, monks, who have come to this mountain monastery, remember that you are gathered here for the sake of the Way and not for the sake of clothes and food. As long as you have shoulders [i.e. a body], you will have clothes to wear, and as long as you have a mouth, you will have food to eat. Be ever mindful, throughout the twelve hours of the day, to apply yourselves to the study of the Unthinkable. Time passes like an arrow, never let your minds be disturbed by worldly cares. Ever, ever be on the look-out. After my departure, some of you may preside over five temples in prosperous conditions, with towers and halls and holy books all decorated in gold and silver, and devotees may noisily crowd into the grounds; some may pass hours in reading the sutras and reciting the dharanis, and sitting long in contemplation may not give themselves up to sleep; they may, eating once a day and observing the fast-days, and, throughout the six periods of the day, practice all the religious deeds. Even when they are thus devoted to the cause, if their thoughts are not really dwelling on the mysterious and untransmissible Way of the Buddhas and Patriarchs, they may yet come to ignore the law of causation, ending in demise of the true rpractice. All such belong to the family of evil spirits; however long my departure from the world may be, they are not to be called my descendants. Let, however, there be just one individual, who may be living in the wilderness in a hut thatched with one bundle of straw and passing his days by eating the roots of wild herbs cooked in a pot with broken legs; but if he single-mindedly applies himself to the study of his own affairs, he is the very one who has a daily interview with me and knows how to be grateful for his life. Who should ever despise such a one? Work hard, work hard!
KO ZEN DAITO KOKU SHI YUI KAI
NAN JIRA SHO NIN KONO SAN CHU NI KITA- ATTE DO NO TAME NI KO BEO ATSU MU.
EJI KINO TAME NI SURU KOTO NAKA RE,
KATA A- TTE KIZU TO YU KOTO NA KU,
KUCHI A- TTE KURA WAZU TO YU KOTO NA SHI.
TADA SUBE KARA KU JU NIJI CHU MURI ENO TOKO RONI MUKA- ATTE,
KIWA ME KITA RI KIWA ME SARU BE SHI,
KO IN YANO GOTO SHI, TSUTSU SHIN DE ZO YO SHIN SURU KOTO NAKA RE,
KAN SHUSE YO KAN SHUSE YO.
RO SO AN GYANO NO CHI ARU IWA JI MON HAN KO BU- KAKKU KYO KAN, KIN GIN O CHIRI BA ME,
TASHU NYO NETSU ARU IWA JU KYO FUN JU CHO ZA FU GA ICHI JIKI BO SAI ROKU JI GYO DO,
TATO I IN MONI SHI SARU TO IE DOMO,
BU- SSO FUDEN NO MYO DO O MO- TTE, KYO KAN NI KAZA I SEZU N’BA TACHI MACHI IN GAO HATSU MUSHI,
SHIN PU CHINI OTSU, MINA KORE JYAMA NO SHUZO KUNA RI.
RO SO YO SARU KOTO HISA SHIKU TOMO JISON TO SHO SURU KOTO O YURU SA JI.
ARU IWA MO SHI ICHI NIN A RI YAGA INI MEN ZE- SHI,
I- PPA BO TEI SE- KKYAKU SHO NAI NI YASA I KON O NITE KI- SSHITE HIO SUGO SUTO MO
SEN ICHI NI KOJI O KYU MEI SURU TEI WA, RO SO TO NICHI NICHI SHO KEN HO ON TEI NO HITO NA RI,
TARE KA AE TE KYO KOTSU SEN YA.
BEN SEN BEN SEN.
This version I found on the Web at http://www.geocities.jp/tierrakoya/umibe/zendera/daitokokusi.html
This second version was taken from a 2006 edition of the Myoshin-ji Sutra Book (妙心寺臨済宗勤行聖典). It differs in punctuation and some characters are different or replaced by the hiragana pronunciation.